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    iPhone 3G Launch Day – A Live-Blog from the Trenches

    March 1st, 2016

    When you consider the type of individual that works for a tech company such as Point2, certain assumptions are usually made. For example, most people would generalize that Point2 employees are the type of people who are incredibly passionate about what they do, thrive on consistent innovation, and have a deep understanding of technology as it relates to business. However, it is this combination of passion, quest for innovation, and tech knowledge that leads to what some would consider an unpleasant side effect – an unbridled gadget lust that borders on obsession.

    Think about it, all of us here at Point2 are so engaged with technology on a day-to-day basis that any shiny new widget that could theoretically improve productivity (or just make us look awesome) is pined for in the worst way.  It comes as no surprise then that when Apple announced that its iPhone 3G was coming to Canada via Rogers on July 11th, almost all employees marked their (Outlook) calendars for the special day and planned to make provisions in order to purchase one.  However, as launch day approached the more astute amongst us realized that supply and demand were not in our favor; there was simply going to be far too few phones available to fill the demand that was ignited, especially since they would not be sold online or in Apple stores.  Realizing this, there was only one course of action left to guarantee a phone – the infamous “camp out”, which myself and two other Point2 employees participated in, and as such are now the new owners of shiny new iPhone 3Gs.

    Now let me set one thing straight.  Even the most diehard gadget-nerd will tell you that any purchase worth camping-out for, be it an iPhone, a Nintendo Wii, or Boxing Day sales at your local Best Buy will not restore the small part of your dignity that you will lose when you camp out.  The realization usually comes when you are sitting in a lawn chair outside a store in the middle of the night and all of a sudden think to yourself “I could be asleep in my bed right now!” or “I’m doing all this just for _____?”  Just think about it this way, do you know anyone that actually wears their camp-out experience as a badge of honor?  Most people simply would rather lie and say that they just walked into a store and purchased their new gadget rather than admit to camping out when they are showing it off to their peers.

    It is with this reasoning in mind that over the course of my roughly 4 hour wait I endeavored to keep a live blog of events in hopes of chronicling my quest for an iPhone and the camping process, so anyone that feels inclined to go out and get a new iPhone 3G will know what they are getting themselves into.  So without further ado:

    6:30AM – Alright!  Today is the day! I am getting up super early so I can go into work and get some stuff done before I go wait in line at the local Rogers store (conveniently located right across the street from our office in a mall), which opens at 9:30AM – after ten more minutes of sleep.

    6:40AM – I have officially decided the snooze button is the worst invention ever.

    7:05AM – OK, after a quick shower, grooming, and a bagel I am out the door and ready to face the day.

    7:15AM – Made it to work and am going to get as much stuff done before I head over to Rogers, even though I cannot really concentrate since I am constantly looking out the window to see if a line has formed yet.

    7:43AM – Line status:  One solitary individual.

    8:15AM – Line status:  Two more people have showed up, and judging by their attire I would not be at all surprised if they bust out a cardboard square and start break-dancing – oh to be young again!

    8:50AM – Well the time has come to grab my jacket and assume my place in the orderly queue across the way.

    9:00AM – Boy is my face red.  It turns out that the people outside the mall are just kids milling about waiting for a bus.  After figuring this out I tried the door to the mall and found it unlocked, so I walked in where upon I found the actual line, which consists of approximately 10 people.  I sure hope there are enough iPhones for everyone.

    9:02AM – So after walking to the back of the line I realize that the two guys in front of me both work for Point2 as well.  We start talking and realize that everyone in the line except me is either a software developer or a computer science student – best keep my status as Marketing Coordinator to myself lest I become the line pariah.

    9:20AM – The two people that work for Rogers have shown up.  They take one look at our little queue and seem less than enthused at the prospect of having to be this busy so early in the morning.

    9:30AM – The store is open, and one of the employees comes out to tell us how this is going to work.  It seems they are going to take four people into the store at a time and when they are done, they will signal the next four to come in – makes sense to me.

    9:35AM – The same employee comes outside to tell us that everyone logging into the Rogers administrative tool across the country has effectively crashed the system and the iTunes activation process is down worldwide.  He thanks us for our patience and assures us it will not take too long.  A collective groan escapes from the line, which I’m sure must have sounded like a great beast howling in pain.

    9:36AM – And now we play the waiting game.

    9:40AM – Seeing as this line is comprised of society’s most computer savvy elements, a lengthy discussion is started in which we speculate about what type of hardware and software that Rogers is using to process its orders, and various ways to optimize the server load.  Being the least computer literate of the bunch, this discussion sounds vaguely McGuyer-esque.  It seems to me that given the opportunity this whole mess could be sorted out if we only had some string, a paperclip and a toothpick.

    10:20AM – The first cracks in our line’s façade have started to show as two people pack up and leave.  They explain that they can’t spend all day waiting around and that they have more important things to do.  We bid them farewell and exchange pleasantries, but I know in back of everyone’s mind they are thinking “good, less people between me and the prize”.

    10:45AM – My Point2 cohorts and myself have come to the realization that this entire process is an exercise in opportunity cost!  The marginal cost of buying the next person in lines spot is significantly less the forgone cost of missing work.  I theorize that if I buy the next three peoples spots in order to move up the line I can get my phone faster and make it up by going back to work quicker than if I wait it out – now if I only had access to an ATM.

    10:51AM – I cannot believe we didn’t think of this sooner!  The other guys from Point2 have decided that it doesn’t make much sense for us all to wait in line together when we could be getting work done.  Therefore, two of us will wait in line and hold the spots while the one can go back to the office and get something done.  Luckily, thanks to my prowess at paper-rock-scissors (the secret is rock, but don’t tell anyone) I get to go back.

    11:00AM – Back at the office.  Now to be productive while I wait for the call to resume my duties in the trenches.

    12:05PM – Received a frantic call from the guys still in line, it looks like the administrative tool is back up and running and they are starting to process people through and they can’t hold my place much longer.  I grab my keys and bolt for the door.

    12:15PM – Back in line, just as the other guys are just about to be let into the store – talk about close!  I happen to glance back and see the despairing looks that everyone else is giving me for my perceived line-cutting.  I then have to go into a sheepish explanation about how they were holding my spot, and as I turn back around I can almost feel the sting of the various daggers being stared into my back.

    12:30PM – Made it into the store and am promptly greeted by a Rogers employee smugly remarking “been waiting long?”  I come very close to having to physically restrain one of the other guys from assaulting said employee.

    12:33PM – Beginning the process of setting up my account with Rogers and choosing a voice and data plan.  One of the Rogers employees tells me to go with the “Joey plan”, appropriately named after himself of course.  I sarcastically tell him I’d rather take the “Chris plan” where upon he looks confused and references the plan chart to see what I am talking about – ugh.

    12:40PM – Everything is all signed and the mythical iPhone is brought out of the stock room and presented to me.  I feel as though a choir of angels should be breaking into song right about now.

    12:41PM – I walk out of the store with my shiny new iPhone in hand, feeling like the kind of the world.  All of a sudden a wave of dread sweeps over me as I realize that Murphy’s Law dictates that I should be mugged at any moment.

    1:00PM – Well that is the end of my adventure; I am back at the office and prepping for this afternoons work.  Now I just have to wait another four hours before I can actually go home and play around with my new purchase – that may actually prove harder than what I have just endured…or not.

    Also, check out next month’s issue of The Point Online for a complete review of the iPhone 3G, tips and tricks to get the most out of your iPhone, as well as a rundown on some of the early real-estate centric apps that have been developed.

    6 Comments "

    Bill Gassett: 7 Blogging Tips for Real Estate Agents

    June 30th, 2015

    Blogging Tips For Real Estate Agents Bill Gassett Point2 Agent

    Today’s “ask an expert” guest post comes from Bill Gassett, a popular real estate blogger who shares his tips and tricks with buyers, sellers and other agents. This article is an excellent resource for both agents looking to start a real estate blog and those who already have blogs that they’d like to amp up a little!

     

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    Blogging can be a fantastic way for real estate agents to increase business and establish a positive image with both potential clients and other professionals. But for blogging to work well, you have to do it right. Just writing random blogs whenever you feel the urge will not get you the results you want. You need to be smart and strategic about how you blog, what you blog about and the way you get your blog out to the world. The most successful bloggers write extremely well and know how to market their content.

    These same content providers also understand the kind of information consumers are looking for. A great real estate blog will generally answer questions that people are searching for online.

    7 Ways To Make Blogging Work For Your Real Estate Business

    1. Pick a great platform

    You have a lot of options when it comes to blogging platforms. One of the most popular platforms for business blogging is WordPress. You can use WordPress to write and publish your blogs – all for free.

    WordPress is so popular because it gives you all the tools you need to write your blog, add pictures or video, tailor the blog for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes and publish it. WordPress is also customizable. You can add headers, graphics and other customizable features that make your site stand out from a sea of competition. If you are at all interested in starting a real estate blog, you should give WordPress a spin.

    If you’re a Point2 Agent Professional or Elite user, you already have access to create your own WordPress blog! The tips in this post will help you add a blog to your real estate agent website.

    2. Write about topics that encourage both local and national interest

    Blogging is all about attracting an audience. When choosing your topics to write about, you should think on both the local and national level if you want to draw the most readers. You don’t have to hit both in every post, but you should try to work in both local and national topics over time.

    When writing about housing prices, you could talk about how your local prices compare to the national numbers. Sometimes you can write about local neighborhoods, while other times you can write about general real estate topics that apply anywhere, like how to prepare for a buyers home inspection. How many times do you think a homeowner may have asked this question either prior to putting their home on the market or right after accepting an offer? The answer is lots! This leads to the next blogging tip for real estate agents which is to answer popular questions you know people are typing into Google or another search engine.

    3. Answer questions that people are asking Google

    Buyers and sellers all head to the Internet now when they have a question about real estate. Most of them ask Google before they even think about asking a real estate agent. You want your blog to pop up in the results when these people do a search, so it makes sense to try and answer their questions with your blog. Google offers tools to find out about the most searched terms, tools that you should become familiar with if you want to target as many people as possible with your blog.

    4. Become a local expert

    You want to stand out among all the other agents writing blogs. One of the easiest ways to do this is to become an expert on your local communities and neighborhoods. You probably already know a lot about your area. That’s information that people are probably looking for online. Write blogs that cover your local knowledge. If people think you are an expert on the area where they want to buy or sell, they are more likely to hire you as their agent. One of the best ways to create business is to have real estate community pages for all the cities or towns that you cover locally. This is an exceptional way to show that you are the “go to” real estate agent in the area.

    You may be wondering what a great community page looks like? Here is an example of my real estate agent’s guide to Framingham Massachusetts. If you were not from the area and were thinking about buying a home, wouldn’t you find this information helpful? You might even consider picking up the phone if you were selling a home in Framingham as well.

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    5. Get familiar with social media marketing

    Social media is one subject that every real estate blogger needs to be familiar with. There are a lot of different channels that people are using now, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn. You will want to establish a presence in online communities like these, because they are a perfect platform for advertising your blog.

    One thing to keep in mind as you start to work with social media – people are not participating in social media communities because they want to be sold to. They are there to connect with other people and to get information from companies and personalities they like. Avoid hard selling yourself, unless you want to be ignored or avoided. Instead, become a useful member of the community, offering knowledgeable advice and helpful information. Over time your efforts can yield big dividends.

    Here are some tips for real estate bloggers using each of the top social media networks:

    Pinterest: Here is a guide on how to use Pinterest for Real Estate. Pinterest is one of my favorite social platforms because of the continuous nature of how something can get shared for an extended length of time. This is unlike any of the other social sites where the bulk of articles being shared lasts a couple of days.

    Google+: Without a doubt Google+ is one of my favorite platforms for building relationships with other agents. It is much like Facebook but with a much more professional flair. You can really excel at driving tons of traffic to your blog by connecting with other fellow professionals. Here is a guide on how to use Google+ for real estate.

    LinkedIn: LinkedIn is another great place for a real estate agent to get traction for their blog, yet most agents don’t know how to use it properly. Here is a great field guide on how to use LinkedIn for real estate. See some handy tips on what to do and what to avoid on this professional platform.

    Twitter: Without question many real estate agents don’t know how to use Twitter all that well. Twitter can be a fantastic tool for drawing people to your blog when used properly. Here are some tips for real estate agents on how to use twitter the right way!

    Facebook: Facebook is still the most popular of all the social networks, so as a real estate blogger it makes sense to use this site as a way of making your blog more visible. Here are some excellent tips for using Facebook as a real estate agent. Finding some of the most popular real estate groups on Facebook is another great way to skyrocket your blog’s visits.

    Never underestimate the power of social media for your blog. This form of communication is getting stronger every year. More and more people are spending significant time using social channels!

    6. Build relationships with other real estate bloggers

    As you start building your blog, you should try to establish positive and mutually beneficial relationships with other real estate bloggers. Links are an important part of SEO, and a friendly mention from another blogger can drive a lot of traffic to your blog. Again, the online community – including your peers – can be a great help in building your online presence. Building solid relationships with others should be a big part of your real estate social media planning.

    Alternatively, you can easily develop a bad image that will hurt you unnecessarily if you are known to be unpleasant to deal with. You want to be loved, especially by your peers – at least if you want to maximize your business. In fact, the only reason I am writing this article here at the Point2 blog is because of the relationship that has been built between us.

    (From the Point2 editor: And we are so thankful for that, Bill!)

    7. Learn The Basics of SEO and Content Marketing

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website for search engines. You want Google to bring up your blog on the first page of search results, if you can manage it. This takes time and some effort, so don’t expect it to happen overnight. But if you learn how SEO works and put it to use in your blog, you have a much better chance of getting your blog in at least the first few pages of search results. SEO is something that never should be discounted. Understanding and using solid SEO tactics is where you can take your blog from being average to exceptional. You can have the greatest blog content around but if nobody finds it, you will be missing opportunities. Learning both onsite and offsite SEO strategy is important.

     

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    Remember: Blogging Is Content Marketing

    Content marketing is the act of creating content – blogs, articles, videos, etc. – that people want to read and watch. You are trying to meet a need that people have, and ultimately become a trusted source of information on real estate. It is marketing by giving away great material for free. You build your image or brand, and eventually people come to you for your services. Who wouldn’t want to use their favorite real estate blogger as an agent?

    Content marketing can also be used to further the reach of your blog content. There are some great standalone platforms that are fantastic for driving additional people to visit your blog. Two of my favorite content marketing platforms are Scoop.it and Storify. Each of these platforms can be used to magnify not only your content but other favorite blog posts or people who have linked to your blog. Doing the same in one of these places is an ideal way of saying thank you and strengthening a bond.

    Want to see what I mean? Check out my Scoop.it Real Estate page and my Storify Real Estate Pages. Notice how on each of these platforms you can share content you have already created and add additional thoughts on the subject. Those that are interested can follow the topic back to your blog!

    There are so many other places where your blog can gain additional exposure besides what I mentioned here. These blogging tips will be a great start, but you should always be on the lookout for additional opportunities.

    Updated January 25th, 2017, by Point2 editor Mircea Laslo:

    Bill’s blogging guide has been one of our most visited articles, and we have no doubt it has helped many agents set up their blogs and social media content flow, to great success. And since Bill finished his write-up with a mention of plenty of other ways of getting exposure and traction in the online content marketing world, we thought we’d add the leading trend shaping up in 2017, just to keep the information in the guide up to date:

    Video content is taking over online media, as many existing platforms now offer the option to post or stream video. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all opened up to live video content, and there are new platforms like Periscope, which make streaming your experiences easier than ever.

    What does this mean for agents? Well, virtual tours and streaming open house events are now entirely within your grasp, and it would be a crying shame not to take advantage of this on your blog and social media platforms. After all, people respond much more to images and film than to words! Video content also makes it much easier for people to put a face to the name when it comes to local recognition. Here’s a handy guide to vlogging for real estate agents.

    Above all else understand that gaining actual business from your real estate blog takes time. Don’t expect that you will write a few articles and buyers and sellers will be beating on your door within weeks. Like anything else blogging is hard work – it takes time to get noticed and gain recognition from others.

    Share a link to you real estate blog below, and we’ll take a peek!

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    4 Google Analytics Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

    March 24th, 2015

    Today’s guest post comes to us from Paul Koks, a passionate Analytics & Optimization Consultant and founder of Online-Metrics.com4 Google Analytics Tips for Real Estate Agents by Paul Koks

    As a real estate agent, you know that your online presence is of crucial importance to grow both your lead database and your bottom line. You need to establish your brand, have a stunning platform and turn your visitors into customers.

    That’s when the measurement part comes in play. You can’t optimize what you don’t measure. It’s great you already have access to Google Analytics, but does it really help you to get more out of your business?

    In this article I share four tips to help you work with Google Analytics in a better and more effective way.

    1. Filter Out Your Own IP Addresses

    I imagine that you work on your online platform on a weekly or even daily basis.

    You need to add new content, change existing pages or simply like to see whether everything works the way it should.

    By default, Google Analytics tracks sessions (their term for visits) from all people that visit your website. This includes sessions that reflect visits by you and your colleagues.

    In my experience, especially when traffic numbers are not incredibly high, this can skew your data a lot.

    Let’s assume you measure 100 sessions on your site, and four sent in lead generation forms. Within these numbers there are 20 sessions from yourself (or colleagues) and two lead generation forms sent as a test.

    Here are the resulting numbers:

    Example - leadgen formsWithout any additional configuration you measure your conversion rate as 4.0%, but in reality it is 2.5%. Small numbers, big differences!

    That’s why I recommend that you filter out any “known” IP addresses from your company or partners. Your office behavior doesn’t have anything to do with the performance of your site. Please keep that in mind.

    How to Set This Up

    I do my best to keep things as simple as possible.

    You need to have “Edit rights” to set up filters in Google Analytics. This gives you access to the Google Analytics admin interface.

    Step 1: Click on All Filters in the admin interface.

    Filters - step 1Step 2: Click on red new filter button.

    Step 3: Select the fields as shown below and choose your expression.

    Filters - step 2If you have a single IP address, you can select that are equal to.

    If  you want to filter out a range of IP addresses, choose that contain.

    Talk to your developer if you need some help here.

    Step 4: Add your new filter to your reporting view.

    Filters - last stepRepeat this procedure for any other IP addresses that you have. On average it takes one hour before the filters become active.

    2. Set Up Goals and Goal Values

    It is very important to set up goals for the desired actions on your website. What do you like your visitors to do?

    I am sure you like to receive more lead generation forms. In most cases after someone sends in a lead gen form, they end up at a unique thank you page on your site.

    I will show you how to set this up in Google Analytics.

    1. Click Admin in the header
    2. Click Goals
    3. Click New Goal
    4. Type in the Name of your goal
    5. Select Destination as the type of goal
    6. Click Next step
    7. Set the destination equal to your goal page URL
    8. Select Value > On and assign a monetary value to your goal
    9. Select Funnel > On (fill in the required steps/pages leading up to your conversion)
    10. Click on Create Goal and you’re ready!

    There is one more thing I like to share about goal values and how to make a good estimation.

    Scenario:

    • In period x you have received 20 lead generation forms.
    • You have earned $20,000 via these leads.
    • Per lead you have earned $1,000.

    In this case you could work with a goal value per lead of $1,000. And so you would fill in 1,000 in the goal value field.

    Apply the same calculation to your situation, and you have great numbers to work with!

    3. Always Segment Your Data

    This is one of the greatest things I have learned in the past: averages lie.

    I often hear people say things like:

    “My average bounce rate is 40%? What do you think about that?”

    “My average conversion rate is 2%? Not bad, what’s your opinion?”

    Every time, I suggest looking at these numbers in perspective.

    What if you have an email campaign with no leads, but a banner that directs great, converting visitors?

    You feel successful, but underneath is an email campaign that you have the opportunity to optimize.

    In other words, make sure to always segment your data.

    A few tips for segmenting your conversion rate (CR):

    • Segment your CR by device category (mobile, tablet, desktop)
    • Segment your CR by traffic source
    • Segment your CR by landing page
    • Segment your CR by region
    • Segment your CR by day of week

    This will help you interpret the numbers in a better, more accurate way.

    Note: You need to set up your goals first to segment on conversion or conversion rate.

    4. Track Your Campaigns

    Whether you are just starting out or count yourself among the advanced Google Analytics users, campaign tracking is a very important topic to know about.

    In short, campaign tracking lies at the foundation of how your sessions are recorded in Google Analytics.

    By default, Google Analytics measures three different traffic channels:

    • Direct traffic: people that come to your site via a bookmark or directly typing in the URL
    • Referral: all incoming traffic from external domains
    • Organic: organic (unpaid) traffic from the search engines

    What about email marketing or advertising banners on other domains? If you don’t do anything, these visitors will be recorded under direct or referral traffic.

    Unfortunately it means that your data gets skewed, and the visitors land in the wrong bucket.

    How to Track Campaigns

    Let’s take email marketing as an example. You might send out a real estate newsletter every week or month.

    Of course you would like to know how the people who click on it subsequently behave on your website.

    Every single link that leads to your website needs to be tracked separately.

    Google URL builder is a great feature that helps you to track your links and traffic in the right way. It enables you to analyze your email campaigns as a separate medium.

    Two years ago I published a comprehensive guide on campaign tracking that you might want to check out!

    I hope that these tips help you to understand Google Analytics in a better way. It’s easy to get things running, but it’s more important to be sure you can trust and act on your data.

    Do you use Google Analytics on your Point2 Agent website? Click here to learn how to set it up!

    1 Comment "

    3 Tips for Social Media Success for Real Estate Agents

    January 19th, 2015

    SocialMediaSuccess_01-19_blogIt’s hard to figure out why there are still real estate agents who don’t include social media objectives in their business plans. There are so many benefits for real estate agents who use social media (which is an article all in itself).

    Some real estate agents make using social media look like solving a Rubik’s cube. It doesn’t have to be like that! There are hundreds and thousands of tips on how to use social media, like these easy Twitter tips for agents.

    Nobody wants to read thousands of tips though, so here are the 3 tips that, if followed, will lead to your success in social media as a real estate agent.

    Create Epic Real Estate Content

    The first tip to social media success for real estate agents is to create epic real estate content. You’re asking: what is epic real estate content? Epic real estate content is something written by a professional that even a 30 year real estate veteran would learn something from or find value in.

    Creating epic real estate content is not something that can be pieced together in 15 minutes. The effort it takes to create epic real estate content can be seen from a mile away. Writing epic real estate content isn’t only about the content either. Creating high quality graphics to compliment the content is extremely important. This is especially true if you plan on being successful on Pinterest as a real estate agent.

    Taking the time to write epic real estate content pays off big time. Creating sub-par content will lead to frustration and the belief that social media doesn’t work for real estate agents, which is false.

    Realize It’s Not All About You

    Probably the biggest “pet peeve” of other top influencers who know how to use social media is when a real estate agent constantly blasts social media with posts about themselves and their products (or listings). Social media is about building relationships, sharing and creating epic content, and showing the general consumer that you have strong knowledge of the real estate industry.

    Hate to say it, but your local buyers and sellers are not going to their Twitter feed to look for a real estate agent. Same can most likely be said about them looking for local real estate listings. It’s possible though that they could be scrolling through their Facebook and click through to a great article you may have recently written debunking common real estate myths. The chances of them seeing value in a high-quality real estate article you wrote and calling you is much greater than them stumbling across that 3 bedroom ranch you just listed in xyz neighborhood and picking up their phone to call you.

    Bottom line, don’t consistently be blasting your social media channels with your newest listing or that you are currently looking for new listings. Everyone already knows that you want to sell your listings and get more. Avoid this and other social media no-no’s for real estate agents at all costs.

    Share & Recognize Other Epic Real Estate Content

    This third and final tip is where many agents fall short in social media. Sharing only your epic real estate content does not work. It’s great that you’ve created a quality real estate article, but it does no good if it’s only able to be read by your limited group of followers. If it’s shared though by other top real estate professionals, the potential reach is much greater.

    For example, if you have 500 Twitter followers that you share your article with and it gets no retweets, the potential reach is about 500 followers. Now let’s say you’ve built some nice relationships with some other top notch real estate professionals on Twitter, and you get a retweet from a professional who has over 20,000 followers. The potential reach has now just grown from 500 to 20,500. That’s a huge difference!

    A good rule of thumb is to share other epic real estate content 5-6 times for every piece of your own content.

    Another excellent way to recognize other epic real estate content is by including links to other real estate bloggers’ articles within your own content. This can lead to tremendous success for several reasons. First of all, the probability that your article gets shared by the professional whose article you linked increases exponentially. This can lead to more exposure for your piece of content. I recently published an article of the Top Real Estate Blog Articles from 2014 and included links to several top real estate bloggers. The article has been a huge success, is being shared all over social media, and is ranking very well in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page).

    Secondly, the possibility that a link to one of your pieces of epic content gets included into one of their future articles also increases. This will lead to more traffic to your blog which should lead to more success in the SERPS.

    If you’re not utilizing social media in your business plan, you need to be. Follow the above tips, and you will see some nice results from social media.

    Kyle Hiscock is a top producing Irondequoit, NY real estate agent with Nothnagle Realtors, based out of Rochester, NY. Kyle has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers move in and out of the Greater Rochester, NY area. In addition to his vast real estate knowledge, Kyle runs a very active real estate blog and is active on many different social media websites.

    2 Comments "

    Marketing to Military Families

    November 11th, 2014

    While many military families opt to rent, others enjoy homeownership and all of its perks. In addition to clients’ specific request, there are many features that are convenient to the military lifestyle in general; knowing in advance what these families want in a property can help you save time and enjoy quick sales. post

    Airport Access No service member wants to step off of the plane after a long tour just to sit in a vehicle for hours trying to make it from the airport to the house. Neighborhoods with easy access to airports and their surrounding thoroughfares minimize commute times for service members and their families.

    Nearby Public Transportation Many military families forgo owning a private vehicle, especially if they’re often stationed internationally. (Shipping a vehicle—or trying to sell at the last minute—isn’t worth it.) For those reasons, easy access to public transportation or ride share programs are vital to military families.

    Proximity to Night Life and Family Entertainment Service members range from singles to established families–and all of them want something fun to do with their downtime! Identifying parts of town that provide ample and interactive opportunities for socializing will win points with your buyers.

    Ample Storage While some families embrace minimalism to avoid lugging belongings around the country, others like the idea of loading up on quality items in order to avoid frequent shopping trips. Learn which approach appeals to your buyers. The latter will need ample onsite storage while the former will accept limited space in exchange for other amenities.

    Privacy While on duty, service members have very little privacy. They want the return home to feel like a personal oasis. Private lots are also beneficial for families with children and pets, who desire the security of an enclosed play space. Fenced-in backyards and houses with wooded lots may add the privacy that such families seek.

    Strong Wireless and Internet Reception Today’s military families cannot thrive in a communications dead space. If they can’t communicate with family and friends abroad, the family will quickly feel dissatisfied with the property and frustrated with the location. When sorting through potential homes, have buyers bring along their wireless devices for a test run. It may also help to research available internet providers and explore the services available in the area.

    Today’s guest post comes to us from Erica Rascón, an online content developer and contributing editor for The Balance Sheet — the Yardi corporate blog.

    2 Comments "

    Highlights from the 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

    November 10th, 2014

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    Every fall agents and brokers across North America eagerly await the publication of the National Association of REALTORS® ‘Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers’. This 100+ page report serves as a bellwether to consumers wants and needs and is widely referenced by everyone in the industry until the day the next report is released.

    Since the 2014 report was released on November 3rd, many real estate professionals have been pouring over the data to see what to expect in 2015 and beyond. In order to help you we have combed through the report and picked out the more important stats and statements:

    – Thirty-three percent of recent home buyers were first time home buyers, which is still down from the historical norm of 40 percent among primary residence buyers.

    – The typical first-time buyer was 31-years-old, while the typical repeat buyer was 53. Sixty-five percent of  home buyers were also married couples, which is down just 1 percent from the previous year.

    – The typical home purchased was 1,870 square feet in size, was built in 1993, and had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. This is a change of -30 square feet overall.

    – Buyers expect to live in their home for 12 years after buying which is up from 10 years in 2013 and dramatically up from 6 years in 2007.

    – 92 percent of consumers used the internet in their home search. This is unchanged from last year.

    – For 43 percent of consumers, going online to look at properties was the first step in their home search. This is a change of 1% from 42 percent in 2013.

    – The percentage of consumers who found the information a real estate professional provided useful changed significantly from 87 percent in 2013 to 98 in 2014. Bottom line, agents provide better value!

    – The typical home buyer searched for 10 weeks and viewed 10 homes—this is two weeks shorter than the 2013 report.

    – Thirty-eight percent of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agents through a referral by friends or family, and 22 percent used the agent they worked with previously to buy or sell a home.

    – Seventy percent of home sellers only contacted one agent before selecting the one to assist with their home sale.

    For more highlights from the 2014 Profile report, check out the report below as well as the presentation NAR’s Jessica Lautz:

    2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Highlights

    Presentation: 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

    What did you find most interesting about this year’s report?

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    .REALTOR Domain Names Are Here

    November 5th, 2014

    The wait is over. After years of teasing and speculation .REALTOR top-level domain (TLD) extensions are here. As of October 23rd, 2014 members of NAR and CREA can visit about.realtor to claim their very own .REALTOR domain. Even better, the first 500,000 NAR and 10,000 CREA members can claim their domain FREE for one year. .REALTOR domain name

    This is big news for real estate professionals as this new domain extension allows you to clearly showcase yourself online as a trusted source of real estate information – something almost all potential clients are looking for. Plus, this domain extension is exclusive only to members of NAR and CREA.

    Ready to get started with this new domain extension? Here is what you have to know first:

    1) Who is eligible for a .REALTOR domain?

    You are eligible for a .REALTOR domain if you are a member of one of the following groups:

    – REALTOR® members (agents and brokers) including International REALTOR® Members
    and members of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)
    – REALTOR® firms/offices
    – State, provincial and local REALTOR® Boards and Associations
    – REALTOR® owned Multiple Listing Services (MLSs)
    – NAR affiliated institutes, societies and councils

    2) Where can I claim my domain?

    You can claim your domain at any time by visiting claim.realtor and following the instructions to search and then receive your domain.

    3) How much do .REALTOR domains cost?

    .REALTOR domains will start at $39.95 USD annually, however the first 500,000 NAR members and 10,000 CREA members will receive their first .REALTOR domain free for one year.

    4) Are there any restrictions on what you can register as a domain name?

    Yes. At the bare minimum .REALTOR domains should contain your name (either first, last or both) or a key business phrase, but cannot include a street address or the word ‘REALTOR’. A full guide on domain naming rules by NAR can be right here.

    5) What will happen to my .REALTOR domain if I exit the real estate business?

    If you are no longer a licensed REALTOR® your .REALTOR domains will continue to be active until your next renewal period, at which time it will be automatically cancelled.

    5) Can I use my new .REALTOR domain with my Point2 Agent account?

    Absolutely! As .REALTOR domains operate  like any other domain extensions (.com, .net, etc.) you can point them to your Point2 Agent website to use in your online marketing initiatives. You can find a guide on how to point domains you own to your Point2 Agent account on our support page.

    You can learn more about the .REALTOR domain from NAR in the video below:

     

    Are you going to get a .REALTOR domain?

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    Do You Recognize the 4 Negotiation Strategies?

    October 27th, 2014

    If you don’t think negotiation stress impacts our daily lives, both personally and professionally, just look at the national sales purchase reports for Tums and Rolaids! It’s not like you can avoid negotiating. Even if you elude every opportunity to negotiate, you still have to live with the consequences of possibly getting less than you could have if you had stepped up to the plate.

    Experts Don Hutson and George Lucas outlined the four legitimate negotiation strategies in their best selling book, The One Minute Negotiator. According to the experts, the four strategies can be categorized on two dimensions:  Activation and Cooperation.

    The first, activation, requires someone to initiate the negotiation. The second dimension, cooperation, is the level of your focus for this negotiation. Are you focused on your own needs, or do you care about the needs of the other side? Understanding the premise for negotiation is key to identifying your competitors’ negotiation default strategy and can give you the competitive edge.Deal

    To help us identify, respond and address these four negotiation strategies, here are several tips to help you secure your preferred outcome.

    • Avoidance is where many of us prefer to be. This quadrant is is a reactive and low cooperation strategy with the intent of protecting the status quo or changing the outcome without conversation. Know that avoidance doesn’t get you what you want, and the consequences can be limiting and frustrating.
    • Accommodation is a reactive/high cooperation strategy where the person using it loses, and the person they are negotiating with wins. The book states that you don’t build relationships with accommodation, but you do test them. Strive for an appropriate resolution when dealing with accommodators.
    • Competition is a proactive/low cooperation strategy. Much like accommodation, it is a win/lose focus, but in the competitive quadrant you are looking to win, while the other side suffers losses. In a competitive negotiation, there is no real relationship present, and it is usually a one-time business transaction. This strategy has the highest potential of ending in a stalemate or no deal. A much more successful strategy is….
    • Collaboration, which is a proactive/high cooperation strategy. Instead of getting a fixed amount of a “pie,” your focus is to simply “grow the pie.” Looking for multiple options, and giving small concessions that have little consequence to your side, helps support a successful outcome. The chance of getting to collaborative negotiations in every instance is not high, but this strategy is by far the most productive. It requires the most preparation and in-depth discovery skills, but the outcome is often more money over time due to a collaboration that sustains and can grow relationships into future business.

    It is foolish to think you can win all the time, but the best negotiators can utilize all four strategies instead of trying to make only one work. It pays to learn how to implement each of these strategies for optimum outcomes. Due to negotiaphobia, most people usually default to only one strategy. With the proper preparation, you can help guide negotiations to a win for your clients and customers.

    For more information on negotiation strategies, visit: www.USLearningVt.com or pick up a copy of “The One Minute Negotiator” by Don Hutson & Dr. G. Lucas.

    Do you have a go-to negotiation style?

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    Hot Tip: 3 Tips to Negotiate NO into NOT YET

    October 22nd, 2014

    When your customer or client says NO, what do they really mean? If you don’t have the skills to figure out how this response may really be a yes, you might miss a great opportunity to make a sale.

    From an unskilled perspective, hearing the word “no” is percieved as being a final boundary in the negotiation process, when in fact, it can open the door to better outcomes for both parties.

    According to negotiation experts Don Hutson and George Lucas, authors of the best selling book, The One Minute Negotiator, the word “no” is often the gateway to a completely positive outcome if the sales person handles the next steps with skill.No Not Yes

    We must keep in mind that when there is a negotiation in process, there must be a common interest to trade, but most likely there will be some conflicting interests before getting to the cooperation stage. In the case of real estate,  a property price sets up the conflict between what the seller wants (perceived value) and what the buyer is willing to pay. The real outcome is that both parties are in a bargaining situation and each with an objective to reach an agreement of  “how” to cooperate, price being only one of many possible outcomes. However, both prefer an outcome in their favor. How intensely each party is willing to work through the bargaining process will determine who is effective in getting their needs met.

    When negotiating, here are some pivotal issues that can help you go from NO to YES:

    • Consider that time and urgency are key factors. If a seller can close in any timeframe, but the buyer must close by a certain date, there is more of an urgency on the part of the buyer. Since the buyer has more pressure than the seller, the buyer may be willing to pay more for the convenience of timing, rather than be fixated on the price for the property. Getting the property closed in a time frame that meets the buyer’s deadline is more critical to that buyer than for the  seller and becomes a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.
    • When a seller is fixated on price, reducing the numeric disparity to a daily amount can help the seller understand the consequences of holding out for a larger sum. If a seller states that they won’t sell for less than X dollars, they are in fact saying NO to any bargaining situation. Smart agents will break the differential down over a period of time, and then show how that disparity can be recovered on the future purchase of a larger, more suitable property, or how a delayed closing will cost them more money. Another factor to present is the value of selling a bit lower, but how the seller would recover by buying their “forever home” from another seller in the same type of situation. Timing, impatience, surplus or lack of inventory will affect your seller’s outcome, so be sure to educate the seller on multiple options even though they seem stuck on “NO”!
    • Many times a party will say the word “no” just because they are responding under pressure or panic during the negotiation process. As an example, a seller is asking $275,000 for their property, and the buyer comes back with an offer at $200,000. The seller says “NO WAY” but in reality, all that has really been done is that the parties have set the negotiating the range of $75,000. Smart negotiators will recognize that this is a sign that the game is on and just the beginning of the bargaining process!

    Don’t shrink just because one party says no. Remember that they may really be simply saying YES, but not quite yet!

    What is your initial response when your sellers say “NO WAY” to a low offer?

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    Top Negotiating Tips You Need to Win!

    October 20th, 2014

    What do you say to control negotiations for a listing commission or counteroffer? How do you manage haggling between buyers and sellers for personal property? If you are like most of us, you have a true distaste for confrontational negotation. But what if there were some top tips and strategies to help you negotiate your way to more sales, more easily?

    Our Success Series expert, Don Hutson, shared with us the 5 biggest mistakes most agents make when negotiating. As the New York Times and Wall Street Journal #1 author of the best selling book, The One Minute Negotiator, Don tackled the most common faux pas agents make when negotiating.

    If you have heard statements like “your commission is too high,” or “we don’t want a yard sign,” you need to know what to say and why. It’s not about repeating some canned scripts, but more about activating a mindset that steers all negotiations from competitive to collaborative outcomes. When you have a collaborative rather than a competitive scenario, you are almost guaranteed to have happy, repeat clients.Negotiate

    Our Power Coaching series on October 23rd is loaded with negotiation hot tips. Host Terri Murphy negotiated her way to over 100 listings and sales annually. She’ll help you address common objections and issues by incorporating a few tips to ensure the sales process will go from good to closed!

    For example, you may hear that your commission is too high. This is a common objection that all agents should learn to overcome. Terri will show us how to build in “value stacking,” so the subject becomes irrelevant and you don’t cut price, work for less or lose your profit margin.

    When the seller says “we won’t sell unless we get our price,” you may feel stuck. But this is easily voided at the listing table. Terri quotes super star Sam Miller’s strategy of using the power of the pricing range to head off this often heard issue so you can get more properties priced right to sell fast.

    Another frequent negotiation point centers around the advertising dollars allocated to marketing the property. Terri shares how to nip this sticky issue before the marketing process begins!

    To learn all of her top negotiation tips, join Terri and Point2 for our interactive webinar on October 23th. Get the scoop on the top strategies to negotiate your way to more sales!

    Date: Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Time: 10 Pacific, 11 Mountain, 12 Central, 1 Eastern

    The webinar is now over. View the recording!

     

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    Upcoming Webinar: 5 Top Negotiation Tips to Get the Sale CLOSED!

    October 16th, 2014

    Agents can go from confident to crazy when negotiations start flying back and forth in a transaction, and trading offers back and forth does not yield top results for your buyer or seller.

    Too often, sales people view negotiating as distasteful. We try to accommodate when we should really be focusing on how to best collaborate to create the best outcomes for both sides of the deal.

    So why aren’t agents really good at the process after all this practice? Expert and New York Times best selling author of the One Minute Negotiator, Don Hutson, understands the top mistakes most sales people make that cost big money. He has some simple steps to get more properties sold and closed. that's a deal

    Terri Murphy will help us implement those highly effective negotiation strategies long before an offer gets caught up in the heat of the bargaining table. She’s got scripts and scenarios that will help us avoid those frequent mistakes agents make.

    Here’s what we will learn:

    1. The biggest mistakes most agents make when negotiating.
    2. Why successful negotiation really starts with preparation.
    3. Learn the simple process for better negotiation outcomes. Negotiation is really a process, not an event.
    4. Did you know that men and women have tendencies to negotiate differently? It is important to know which questions to ask who and when to make sure all parties have a full understanding of the outcome.
    5. What you can do when the negotiations go from collaborative to competitive. How to reverse a block and deploy strategies that get all parties back in the game.

    To get the rest of these top negotiation tips and strategies, join us when Terri helps you to be even more prepared and confident for your next negotiation opportunity!

    Date: Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Time: 10 Pacific, 11 Mountain, 12 Central, 1 Eastern

    The webinar is now over. View the recording

    1 Comment "

    9 Ways to Clean the Clutter Before Selling a Home

    October 15th, 2014

    Today we have a guest post from Bill Gassett, a popular real estate blogger who shares his tips and tricks with buyers, sellers and other agents. This article is an excellent resource to pass on to your clients and prospects.

    So you have decided to leave your old home behind and move into a house better suited to your current lifestyle. The initial excitement you feel after making this decision is pretty invigorating, but there is still a lot of work to be done to transition from one home to another. Depending on how long you have been in your current home you may have a great deal of clutter to go through – stuff you have no reason to bring to your new home. Getting rid of all of the “stuff” you no longer need can be a monumental task if you are not well prepared in advance. 9 Ways to Clean Clutter

    We asked Bill Gassett, a top Realtor in Bellingham Massachusetts to share his best tips on ways to clean the clutter before selling a home. Bill has been selling real estate for nearly thirty years so he has seen it all when it comes to the showing condition of homes. Using Bill’s tips for de-cluttering your home will more than likely increase your chances for a quicker sale while also keeping your life more manageable.

    Ways to De-Clutter Prior to Moving

    • Organize your paperwork. Mail and other paperwork has a way of accumulating for even the most organized people. The next thing you know, you have drawers and piles of it everywhere, and the first thought that comes to mind is to just throw it all away. Take a deep breath and deal with this the only way you can – with patience. Once you begin going through your paperwork you will discover that much of it is no longer relevant and can be discarded. Shred any documents with sensitive information and recycle the rest.
    • For documents that you need to keep, consider buying boxes specifically for that purpose. Label them with as much detail as you can so you know where to find important documents later. Keep in mind that not all documents that appear important actually are. Supporting documents for your tax returns – like your W-2s and similar documents – only need to be kept for three years. If you run a business, the supporting tax documents must be retained for six years. When it’s time for you move, make sure to pack these in a place where you will be able to easily access them, especially if there is anything concerning the sale of your house.
    • Clean out your closet. Clothes are another category that tends to accumulate over time. There is no reason to haul all your unused and unwanted clothing to your next house though, so take a few hours to clear out your closet. Those outfits you loved in 1997 need to find their way to the local thrift store, and the pants that stopped fitting eight years ago should probably go as well. The less you have to move the better (and all that extra closet space is a fun excuse to go shopping). A great way to discard unwanted clothing is to visit the nearest Goodwill. Goodwill is a non-profit organization specifically set up to help those in need of life’s necessities. Not only will your donation help make your home look better, it will undoubtedly help someone who is less fortunate. A win-win for everyone!
    • Gather your home improvement records. When going through all of your documents, be sure to collect your home improvement records and receipts. These can come in handy when you are selling your current home and provide a nice history for those who eventually purchase the house. This way they know when things were done and by whom. Making a list of home improvements that will help sell a home is a great marketing idea. Buyers love to see what you have done to your property and when. Providing them a list as part of the real estate marketing brochure or on your single property website is something they will love!
    • Donate old electronics and appliances. Everyone has an old computer, appliance or other bit of electronic gear sticking around. Whether it’s in the garage, the basement or a closet, you probably imagined one day you would get around to fixing it, or that it would make a great backup when the new one broke. While your intentions were good, the fact is that these items are just extra things to move – things that will probably sit in a similar place unused in your new home. Where you donate these items will depend on your area and what donation organizations accept. Make sure to call ahead and verify that the place you are planning to take the item actually accepts it. It shouldn’t be necessary to stick it in a landfill, but it may take some searching to find someone who can actually use your particular item.
    • Clear out the cupboards and the freezer. Stockpiling food is very easy to do. Between your cupboards and your freezer you may have a good deal of food items that are past their expiration date or food you never really plan to eat. Check all of the expiration dates and discard all food that is no longer good. For your freezer, expiration dates are not the only concern. Food that remains in the freezer for more than three months often degrades in quality. Discard anything you think is old enough to no longer taste good. You may also have items that are still within their expiration date, but you just don’t see yourself eating them. These you can take to the local food bank so others can get use out of them.
    • Dispose of unused hazardous materials. If you have paint cans or other toxic home improvement or cleaning materials, some of these may need to be discarded before your move. Materials like this that have not been used within the past year may not even perform well anymore, and hauling already opened containers of things like paint risks unpleasant and possibly hazardous spills. This is something you should consult with your REALTOR® to find out local best practices. Some buyers love to have the old paint for touch up purposes while others plan to completely change the home’s color scheme and have no use for old paint. Contact your local hazardous waste disposal organization to find out where and how to discard these items.
    • Finish the de-cluttering process as early as possible. Moving is a real pain… even when everything goes perfectly. By starting your de-cluttering process early you can ensure that everything is ready to go by the time moving day hits. In fact, take a look at this helpful guide on how to prepare for moving. You will find tips that will make your move far less stressful than just winging it. The advice will help with considerations before and during your move. More than likely things you have not even thought about. Most people are surprised at just how much time it takes to go through all of their things.
    • Look over the home carefully. Lastly while you are going through your home doing the necessary cleaning and organizing, make sure you also give your home a once over looking for any necessary repairs. A buyer will almost certainly be doing a home inspection. A good home inspector will find common home inspection issues very easily. As homeowners we often forget to really look at our homes through the eyes of a buyer. We get used to our surroundings and don’t realize we have problems until they become a major issue. Home inspections are the #1 reason homes come back on the market. Don’t let this phase of the real estate transaction stop your sale cold in its tracks! By getting your home to look its absolute best, you stand a much better chance of getting top dollar and sitting at a closing table sooner than you expected.

    A lot of decisions must be made when you are selling your home. Start early so you can be ready when the moving truck arrives. There is nothing that will take the stress out of a move more than being fully prepared for what lies ahead. Best of luck with your sale!

    4 Comments "

    Words You Should NEVER Use When Negotiating

    October 13th, 2014

    As a real estate professional, negotiating should be one of your key competencies and differentiators in your service offering, yet most agents don’t invest in honing their negotiating skills on an ongoing basis.

    Like any project or goal, practice doesn’t make perfect right away, but it is a good start! With continuous study, you can put yourself in a highly-coveted and profitable position of expertise and competency – a  great differentiator in any business.

    In our recent Success Series webinar, guest expert Don Hutson, co-author of best-selling “The One Minute Negotiator”, shared with us his perspective on the five biggest mistakes agents make when negotiating. No

    One aspect of successful bargaining pertains to what you should NEVER say when negotiating. There are many “no” words that contribute to a weaker negotiating position, and there are several top phrases or discussion styles to avoid when negotiating:

    • I/We Need: The other side of the table doesn’t really care what you need. Their focus is on what they want. This is a pivotal reason to do a superior job of preparation before negotiating. Discovering their needs and wants early can make a huge difference. Also, understanding Red Chips, which are “non-negotiables,” Blue Chips, which are “important to gain if possible,” and Green Chips, which are “nice to haves,” can add measurably to your effectiveness in negotiating.
    • I/We Want: All too often in a negotiation process, one party will state what they want, which is typically a good thing. But avoid making statements that appear vague and have indistinct parameters. For example, if your seller states that they want to get between $5,000-10,000 more on their asking price, this ambiguity in price range can work against them because it sets the stage for giving a concession. Once stated, a smart negotiator will jump on that opportunity to pay the lesser amount of $5,000. To negotiate more successfully, don’t give away anything unless it is late in the process, and it has clearly been stated that your side will get something in return.
    • I/We Won’t: Once you have stated the obvious point that you won’t perform on a given issue, you have painted yourself in a proverbial corner. What your real intention might be is that this issue is a Red Chip or a non-negotiable item or issue, which is of course part of the process. But by stating you “won’t”, you appear to close the door to future collaboration, possibly setting up a competitive strategy which may lead to a stalemate. Instead, look for multiple options as a way to move forward, instead of deadlocking the transaction.
    • Talking to fill the void: One of the most powerful tools to use is silence. When you research negotiation tactics, almost every one of the experts support using silence as a tool in negotiations. In their best-selling book, “Getting to Yes,” experts Roger Fisher and William Ury address the power of silence this way: “When nothing is said, the next one to speak reveals their position, giving the best direction for the next encounter.” Learn to sit tight and create the space for a response helps you get to compatible outcomes. Many times the first one to talk is the one who loses.

    We will be faced with negotiating in every aspect of our personal and professional lives, so it makes good sense to get better at it! For more tips, podcasts and information visit USLearning.com.

    Be a skilled negotiator and you will find yourself negotiating your way to more profits more easily!

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    Hot Tip: Negotiation Tips for Women in Real Estate

    October 8th, 2014

    Did you know that recent 2014 NAR membership reports show that over 57% of all licensed agents are female? 

    negotiationWith such a predominant percentage of women in the real estate business, what does today’s woman need to know to fare better at the negotiation table?

    Experts Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever, authors of Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Wantstate that too often women can appear weaker at negotiating. One of the primary reasons is that women are naturally highly accommodating and don’t want to appear too “pushy.” To alleviate this perception, there are easy-to-implement strategies that help women perform better when negotiating. With enhanced negotiation skills, you can expect to get what you want for what you do and whom you do it for.

    Here are 5 mistakes for women to avoid when negotiating,

    #1 – Not limited just to women, here in the USA most of us fail to invest in learning to be better at negotiating. Few take advantage of taking a class, seminar or even read a book, and yet almost all real estate services require negotiation talents! Real estate requires excellence at negotiations, so we need to study up to do our best for ourselves and our customers.   

    #2 – Women want to avoid confrontation. We all periodically suffer from “negotiaphobia” – a term used to describe the fear or distaste of anything associated with the negotiation process. All too often, we will find ourselves settling for less just to avoid negotiating a more suitable outcome. You can treat your negotiaphobia by simply learning more about the process. Begin negotiations from a power position to get on the right track and get pointed in the right direction.

    #3 – We’ve already stated that women typically tend to assume or hint about rather than ASKING for what we want from negotiation scenarios. Many times the other side may not even be aware of a problem or concern, and would be willing to consider a new solution if the options were stated clearly and put on the table. So women must simply learn to ASK for what they want, and they may get it or have to further negotiate, but they have a greater probability to get more than they thought!

    #4 – The fourth biggest mistake women may make is making unnecessary concessions. It is common for women (and people with an accommodating interactive style) to try to please the other party in the negotiation process. Often this accommodation confuses agreement with the final negotiation.  Women tend to assume after the handshake the negotiations are complete, when, in fact, this initial agreement may not be final until all is signed and sealed. Key take away here: the agreement is not done until it is written up and executed, and the fine print is checked! “Nibbling” can be another tactic used by a competitive negotiator where they may discretely add some options that were never originally agreed upon.

    #5 – The smart agent that invests time in a “discovery needs analysis” long before the actual meeting is on the way to win at the negotiating table. According to our experts, the biggest impact on negotiations is what you do before the meeting. When you prepare by doing your homework (checking the MLS for listing history, confirming taxes, checking expired listings for days on the market), you are ahead of the game! When you diligently prepare, you know what the needs are for both parties in advance before you begin the agreement process. Then, when you finally do meet, you are more able to propose a set of options that begin the process of collaboration, so it makes good sense to do your homework! 

    We can’t avoid negotiating every day, both personally and professionally. Approach learning more about negotiation with a win-win spirit and the goal of everybody winning, and you’ll find yourself in demand and in the profit zone!

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    Do You Suffer from Negotiaphobia?

    October 6th, 2014

    If you have felt like a “victim” instead of a “victor” when negotiating for your commission or on behalf of a client, you may be suffering from “negotiaphobia.” Most agents think that “splitting the difference” in a purchase transaction makes the deal go and everyone is happy, but the truth is, that is often the worst outcome for your clients.

    The NAR 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers states that 12% of home buyers most wanted their real estate agent to help with price negotiations. The report goes on to state that for all buyers,  44% said their real estate agents negotiated better sales contract terms and improved buyers’ knowledge of search areas. This means your clients and customers depend on YOU for a better negotiation experience. But few agents actually invest any time, energy or diligence in an ongoing advancement of their real estate negotiating skills. Don Hutson - sized

    Our October Success Series expert knows how to negotiate! Don Hutson is the internationally known New York Times best selling author of “The One Minute Negotiator.” Don started young in his real estate career selling new construction with his dad. He quickly learned that great negotiating skills made more buyers happy and put more money in his pocket on every sale. How did he do it?

    By overcoming the barriers of negotiaphobia!

    Don believes that getting better at negotiating will solve most problems, but it takes a commitment to ongoing training to become more collaborative in your approach to ultimately improve your skills with advanced strategies and tactics.

    Don is the author of 14 books (two of which are NY Times & Wall Street Journal number one best sellers) and has received the highest recognition in his industry, including his recent “Master of Influence Award” given by the National Speakers Association in 2014. Don is passionate about sales and helping agents develop better skills to provide the best outcomes for their buyers and sellers.

    He is ready to share the five biggest mistakes most agents make when negotiating to make you more confident, savvy and successful at every negotiation you are involved with, be it personal or professional.

    On Thursday, October 9th, Don will share:

    • What is “negotiaphobia” and how to overcome it
    • The four negotiation strategies and how to handle them
    • When to make concessions in negotiations
    • How to avoid key words that diminish your position and power

    You can’t afford to miss this renown expert and learn what you need to know to better negotiate your way to success!

    Date: Thursday, October 9, 2014
    Time: 10 Pacific, 11 Mountain, 12 Central, 1 Eastern

    The webinar is now over. View the recording.

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    4 Office Productivity Killers And How To Fix Them

    October 1st, 2014

    office productivity killers

    As any real estate professional knows, time management and office productivity are crucial skills to master in order to become a top producer, but this is of course easier said than done. There are a whole host of factors that can drag down your productivity, whether or not you are conscious of them.

    Here are 4 of the most common office productivity killers and how to prevent them from affecting your own productivity:

     

    1) Sleep (or lack thereof)

    Sleep might not be the first thing that people associate with productivity, but it is surely one of the most important factors influencing it. In fact, studies have shown that sleep deprived workers consistently perform tasks more slowly which of course will directly impact how much you can accomplish in your workday. In addition, sleep deprivation has shown to increase the error rate – that is, the amount of mistakes you make in your work – by up to 30%!

    How to fix this: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but get more rest! But because this simple solution might not fit everyone’s lifestyle a great first step is to try and add a 20 minute “power nap” in your day. This has been proven to be the optimal time necessary to refresh your mind and help you stay productive.

     

    2) Stop multitasking

    This sounds counter-intuitive, we know. Wouldn’t doing more at once increase your productivity rather than decrease it? Turns out not exactly. While multitasking may lead to a short-term burst of added productivity long-term reliance will decrease your productivity by up to 40% according research conducted in 2001. Why does this happen? As you switch between tasks there is time lost which when added up is quite significant and this lost time only increases as you introduce more complex tasks.

    How to fix this: The best way to combat the urge to multitask is to utilize the concept of “timeboxing” or “time chunking”. This is the idea that you only work on a single task for a pre-determined amount of time of your choosing. This way you can focus on producing your best work without ever giving in to distractions, be it a text message or a funny link from your coworker. You can help spur this habit on with Moosti which helps you set timers for your “time box”.

     

    3) TXT free zone

    Texts, Twitter, Facebook Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, WeChat or WhatsApp. There is no end to the amount of notifications your smartphone will send your way once you start using fun apps like these. It’s no wonder then that in a survey conducted by CareerBuilder 50% of respondents said that smartphones and texting were the number one cause of distractions and loss of productivity in the workplace. This is because when we shift our attention from the task at hand to checking the notification that has popped up our phones, it takes us on average 6 minutes to get back on task. With all the distractions that our phones bring in the day, think of how much productivity you are losing!

    How to fix this: There are two options here. The easiest (and more extreme) of the two is to simply put your phone away and do not use it for the duration of your work day. The downside to this being that you might miss that all important client phone call or lead. The second option is to introduce a selective “do not disturb” mode on your smartphone which will temporarily halt notifications that may distract you, but will still alert you to things you specify, such as calls or certain emails. You can find a guide to setting this up on your iPhone right here and Android users can follow a similar guide here.

     

    4) Let there be light!

    The stereotype of the cold, barren office filled with flickering fluorescent lights exists as an office trope for a reason – anyone that has spent time in an office with bad lighting knows the effect it has on you. Numerous studies have shown that inadequate lighting will zap your mood and affect your productivity in a dramatic fashion so it is important to make sure that you have the right amount in addition to the right type of lighting for your workspace.

    How to fix this: Begin by taking stock of your current workspace lighting and answer two questions:

    1. How well lit it the workspace?
    2. What type of light is being used?

    If there is not enough light, consider adding more natural light sources which has been shown to increase alertness and happiness. If natural light sources are not available, look at introducing more 6500K lights. These are often referred to as ‘daylight bulbs’ are they have a similar spectrum to natural sunlight and do not have the same negative effects as standard halogen bulbs.

    Do you have any other office productivity tips to share? Leave a comment below!

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    7 Smartphone Security Tips for Real Estate

    September 30th, 2014

    smartphone security

    As a real estate professional your smartphone is undoubtedly your most important possession. It’s your mobile office, your primary means of communication, your Rolodex, your weather forecast, your camera and more.

    But with this reliance on one device comes risks. A lost or stolen phone can potential compromise our most important business data, your sensitive client information – even your own identity.

    Reduce your risk by following these 7 smartphone security tips that work whether you are an iOS or Android user.

    1. Use a device PIN or password

    While this might seem like a no-brainer more than half of smartphone users don’t use a pin, password or any other type of locking mechanism. Make sure you keep a lock on at all times to create a first line of defense between people that have physical access to your device and the data stored on it. Make sure to also change this lock periodically in the event that someone has glanced your password over your shoulder.

    2. Use a GPS-aided phone finder

    In the event your phone goes missing it is important to be able to retrieve it as quickly as possible. Most smartphone makers offer some sort of web-based tool to geo-locate your device, call it or remotely wipe it should you suspect it has fallen into the hands of crooks. Here are your options for each device maker:

    3. Don’t use unsecured Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

    They say “home is where the Wi-Fi connects automatically” and real estate professionals should heed this warning! Coffee shops, airports, restaurants or transit services might offer complimentary Wi-Fi but unlike your home network you cannot vouch for its security. Avoid using these services if possible since any data transmitted over them (like your business or banking information) is at risk of being intercepted.

    4. Defend your phone against Malware

    Phones are just as susceptible to the same kind of malware and viruses that your desktop computers are and they need the same level of protection. The problem appears to be less hazardous for iOS users thanks to Apple’s strict control over the App Store, however the open-source nature of Android makes them a lot more vulnerable, as malicious apps can be loaded onto the device without being checked by Google first. In both cases this is something that can be countered through the use of mobile antivirus software application from the likes of McAfee, AVG, Norton or another reputable antivirus company – all of which can be found in the App Store.

    5. Consider a password manager

    Chances are if you are using your phone for your real estate business you have multiple apps or websites you need to login to on a regular basis, such as your Point2 Agent account. If so, consider the use of a password manager like 1Password, which works across all platforms and keeps your passwords – and by extension your sensitive data – safe, encrypted and secure.

    6. Keep your phone software up-to-date

    There is a reason that smartphone makers always update their devices with new software – to patch security flaws and bugs that put your information at risk. Make sure that you do your part to close these security loopholes by updating to the latest operating software. Most manufacturers allow you to set your phone to check for updates automatically, so always make sure this option is enabled on your device.

    7. Use a digital “vault” for super-sensitive information 

    If you have information on your smartphone that is too important to keep with the rest of your documents – be it contracts, signatures or loan documents – consider keeping them in a separate area of your smartphone. On iOS you can use an app like The Vault or NQ Mobile Security on Android, which provides you with encrypted and password-protected storage for documents, images or videos.

    Do you have any other smartphone security tips for real estate professionals that you would like to share? Comment below!

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    Are You Brand Dead in Your Marketplace?

    September 29th, 2014

    Brand dead! Get it?

    Quick! Name one agent in your area who has successfully established themselves with strong differentiation in their marketplace…

    It’s not that easy is it? Why is it that most agents fail to create strong brand identification where they do their business?

    Can you imagine what chaos would occur in the marketplace if there were no brand positioning? Branding is not about some slick logo; it is about YOU and your business. Without some unique identification in your market, you default to being just another real estate agent with no particular value set.

    Branding is more than a logo and some spiffy brochures from a marketing department. According to business writer Harry Beckwith, “Your brand is not PART of your business, it IS your business!”

    What does that mean to real estate agents? We appear to sell “commodities”… properties. Consumers can get that information anywhere, everywhere and at any time. So how can you, as a small independent entrepreneur, beat the masses at their own game? It’s easier than you think! Begin by incorporating a few solid steps to create true significance and positioning in your market. Here are a few ideas to get you started:Skull

    • Start with what you do and who you do it for. Are you a specialist? Do you find yourself particularly enjoying a certain segment of the market, like condos or a specific housing development? Or are you more of a demographic specialist, like senior housing, military or first-time buyers? In any case, defaulting to being a generalist will dilute you, keeping you from standing apart from all the other agents in your area. When you specialize, you have tangible differentiation in how you go to market and are more likely to grab the attention of consumers who are seeking your exact type or brand of service. If you do have certifications, instead of including a pile of acronyms by your name, use a tag line that explains who you serve and why. As an example, if you are a certified Senior Specialist, you might add a tag line like “Helping seniors go from downsizing to ‘rightsizing’ their real estate needs.” Make it easy to know what you do, then add all the extra justification in a bio in all your online channels.
    • How do your customers FEEL when they think of your brand? How your customers “feel” about your brand isn’t a casual commentary, but crucial to developing an emotional response. This emotion is what creates that “brand insistence” when they only want to do business with you. Think of your favorite hairdresser, doctor or dentist. You are loyal to them regardless of what they charge or where they move… as long as you have the trust and confidence in their services. You probably feel the same way about your choice of cars. If you simply need to get from place to place, any car will do… so why the big emphasis on the “right car for you?” Should you be lucky enough to get a gift in that signature blue box from Tiffany with the white silk bow, the feeling you get is quite different from any other gift… why? The FEELINGS attached to the brand! So… what are your customers feeling today about doing business with you and how would you know? Think about conducting surveys, setting up casual Saturday monthly breakfast meetings or scheduling an annual lunch – just a few great ways to take their pulse. This information will help you to figure out what you need to do to continually tweak your service offerings to make customers and clients raving fans. It is much easier to deliver a service solution your customers have designed than trying to figure it out on your own.
    • Much as we hate to admit it, technology gives us a new direction and edge in today’s marketplace. The one fundamental truth that has not changed is that people insist on doing business with people they know, like and trust. However, the way they can initially detrmine that today may take place online, before they even meet you. They may make that decision based on how “connected’ you are by checking out your agent website or by the testimonials you have on LinkedIn. This important step is not an option, but critical to sustaining and maintaining business today. Get a mobile-responsive website that offers lead capture, drip systems and automatic messaging to serve the 24/7 needs of interested prospects. Grow your digital footprint big and awesome!

    Don’t miss a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd. The good news is no one can duplicate or copy it because your brand is YOU! For more information about how to build your own distinctive brand, check out tips from expert Bubba Mills.

    If you had to name one thing that identifies your brand to prospects, what would it be?

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    Upcoming Webinar: Are You Making Negotiating Mistakes that Cost Big Money?

    September 29th, 2014

    Have you ever heard these objections?real estate negotiation

    • Your commission is too high.
    • We don’t want a yard sign.
    • We won’t sell unless we get our price!

    How good you are at negotiating for buyers and sellers can make or break a transaction, and yet most agents have little investment in negotiation training or coaching to get better at the one activity required to be more successful in real estate… negotiating to win!

    If you can’t even negotiate what you get paid, chances are your prospects will figure out that you won’t be a sizzler on their behalf at the bargaining table when an offer is made. Strong negotiation skills are proven to be a key issue when hiring a real estate professional to handle their sale or purchase.

    Negotiation expert and NY Times #1 bestselling author, Don Hutson, knows how to help us avoid the five biggest mistakes most agents make when listing or selling. Don is confident that when you learn how to strategically work within a collaborative strategy, it is easier to enjoy the process. His expert insights will help us better address competitive or confrontational situations when working with buyers and sellers for more profitable outcomes.

    Negotiation doesn’t just happen in real estate. You need good negotiation skills for every aspect of your personal and professional life, so getting better at the negotiation process is key! You can’t afford NOT to get better at negotiations! Don’t miss this important session with international sales trainer, author and expert Don Hutson.

    Join us to discover:

    • Why agents avoid negotiating
    • What you can do to overcome the fear of the negotiation process
    • How to identify the 4 negotiation strategies and how to handle each one
    • Why women and men negotiate differently
    • How to avoid the 3 most common words that diminish your position and power at the negotiations table

    You can’t afford not to join us and learn what you need to know to better negotiate your way to more profits!

    Date: Thursday, October 9, 2014
    Time: 10 Pacific, 11 Mountain, 12 Central, 1 Eastern

    The webinar is now over. View the recording.

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    Hot Tip: 10 Ways to Keep Your Customers for Life

    September 24th, 2014

    Client Retention Will Make You Rich!

    Did you know that customer retention is your key to never making another cold call again? It is easier to retain a current customer than to develop new ones, so what do we need to do to build our business on endless referrals? It’s a lot easier than you think, and you’ll save a boat load of time, energy and money!

    Retention strategy is always a smart one for businesses that offer consumable services. But real estate does not lend itself to fast consumption. When customers buy or sell a property they usually don’t need another property as a main residence for at least a couple of years. So what can an agent do to bridge the gap between the buy and the next buy?

    For agents, keeping the connection starts with four important points:

    • Why would a customer choose you to help them with their real estate needs?
    • Did your customers have an exceptional experience working with you?
    • What systems do you have in place to continue the relationships?
    • How do you leverage those customers into future  referrals by creating advocates and emissaries who will spread the good word about you throughout their sphere of influence…forever!?

    Forrester Research reports that just a 10% improvement in a customer’s experience can translate into 1 BILLION dollars of increased revenue! So even a slight improvement in how you connect with your customers can dramatically improve your bottom line.

    Let’s look at how you can really begin building clients for life instead of being a one-time service provider:

    1. Do start the relationship with a brand strategy that directly identifies what you do and who you do it for. When you have a given area of expertise, you will attract those prospects that are looking specifically for what you do and where you do it. Jack Cotton, rookie turned super producer, started working in Cape Cod’s high-end real estate with a broken down bike and now ranks as the number one choice of real estate professionals to handle luxury homes in that area. Jack has earned the title “Cape Cod’s Luxury Home Expert” because he studies every transaction and offers an annual report to each of his Cape Cod homeowners. His website, social media channels and books make him the undisputed king of his area. His BRAND is his expertise. Choosing a specific area of specialization in real estate is the key to getting customers to come to you. No need to be limited to a certain geographical area! Think market verticals, like first time buyers, military specialization, golf communities, condos, farms….the list is endless! Start with a brand to help customers and prospects come to you.Team
    2. Great service doesn’t impress the savvy customer of today. Buyers and sellers are looking to be “wowed” in ways that help you stand apart from your competition. Expertise is on the top of the list, but having a “great experience” during the process of working with an expert is mandatory. The experience starts from the minute you make the connection. If the lead came through your agent website, jump on the response often and more often. Should the lead come through a call, set up systems that give that prospect an immediate automated response and follow up with a personal call as soon as possible.
    3. Philadelphia top producer Craig Lerch Jr. makes the showing of property a different experience. He equips his car with a small cooler stocked with beverages, snacks and a clip board with a short form. The cooler makes for comfort throughout the process, and the form gets pertinent information from the prospect like birthdays, pets’ names and more to customize ongoing communication and connection with the client.
    4. Marsha Sell, Atlanta’s number one agent for multiple years, has a small basket of treats waiting at the hotel where her out of town customers will be staying during their house hunting visit. It’s the small personal touches that cement an ongoing connection. She then nutures her client relationships by continuing to add value and support after the sale.
    5. Top coach Verl Workman continues to drill his coaching clients that systems are the key to doing more business more easily. You positively must have a software system that captures and supports a clean and vibrant database of customer, client, and prospect and referral resources information. Gary David Hall explores the various data base options available in his session on how to cultivate and generate more leads. The formula to keep clients for life is: Consistency + Value (of Messages, reports, updates) + Personal contact equals repeat business
    6. After you acquire a customer, the challenge is keeping the connection alive so that you can earn the right to ask for referrals in a way that helps them to help you. Simply asking for referrals can be awkward, making it hard to come up with someone they know who may need your services. Look for easier ways to secure referrals. Mike White, offered easy tips on leveraging strategic partnerships for ongoing warm referrals by implementing his “Referral Triangle.” Setting up other important resource connections for your clients, especially transferees, is a key component of leveraging professional services. Michael recommends that we contact all parties tangent to the real estate transaction and beyond, like accountants, attorneys and financial planners to offer reciprocal referrals for easier prospecting.
    7. Offer the personal touch. Canadian ranch and farm expert, Tim Hammond shared his tips on retention with unique marketing activities that have proven to keep his name and services top of mind. Tim dominates his area of Saskatchewan by branding himself to farms and ranch real estate. He gives GPS units as well as a high-end knife set as closing gifts, both which sport his name and logo.
    8.  Super star Leslie McDonnell throws an end of year holiday party annually (for over 15 years without fail), and her customers love it. They get a “save the date” electronically at Thanksgiving so they have plenty of time to put this event on their calendars.
    9. Another great tip that Leslie uses to stay connected all year long is by offering monthly contests and drawings from her website. She has a “theme of the month.” Premium drawings include gas cards, baseball tickets or dinners. This “trains” the clients to keep coming back year after year.
    10. Start an annual pie give away. Linda Hall in Fort Mill, S.C., offers an annual Thanksgiving pie giveaway to her past clients and referral partners. Her team ties in a “food bank donation” to help her customers help the community. The past clients choose between apple and pumpkin to “reserve” the free pie. The Linda Hall team raves that this activity generates impressive referrals and keeps them rolling in even after the holidays.

    Start with at least one idea a month and find out what works best for your clientele. The bottom line is that referrals will make you rich… but you must stay connected!

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